A Travellerspoint blog

November 2019

Chiang Mai With Friends

Loy Krathong Holiday and Chiang Mai Day Trip

I’ve been good friends with Stefi and Frank since we met at the Thai Elephant Conservation Camp in 2006. We don’t see each other so often. But when we do we pick up right where we left off like no time has passed. And it’s always a real treat to get together. Frank was 72 and Stefi much younger, when we trained and bathed elephants together at TECC! He was amazing then.
Now 85, he is still much younger than his years. Stefi is over 50 now. My young friends keep me young and my older friends mentor me on how to live life as we get older!
PS... TECC was the most fun ever and so memorable. We no longer ride the elephants. I’m happy to say that 13 years later, ethical animal tourism is taking a foothold. Many elephant parks have observation and enrichment programs without riding or shows.

When it’s cold in Canada Frank & Stefi winter in Thailand. This year they are staying at the riverside Holiday Inn Chiang Mai. As maybe the large hotel’s only long stay guests, they are treated like royalty by every member of the staff. Affordable independent living with meals, van transportation and a concierge takes on a new look! I stayed there too. It’s an older hotel and gets many bus tours.
I didn’t try the gym or pool. The hotel rooms are huge. And the shower was really great!

I arrived for the Loy Krathong Holiday. Loy Krathong is the Thai Holiday of Light. One of the most picturesque festivals in Chiang Mai is the evening of Loy Krathong, when people gather around lakes, rivers and canals to pay respects to the goddess of water by releasing beautiful lotus shaped rafts, decorated with candles, incense and flowers onto the water. Every year, Loy Krathong falls on the night of the twelfth lunar month, usually in November. It marks the end of the rainy season when the full-moon lights up the sky. The sight of thousands of Krathongs, their flickering candles sending a thousand pinpoints of light far into the horizon is a truly magical site.

In Chiang Mai this holiday is well known for the thousands of lanterns that are launched into the sky. But the lanterns are a danger to air traffic and are no longer permitted. Just in case folks ignore the new rule, flights after dark in and out of Chiang Mai on the night of Loy Krathong were cancelled. The Holiday Inn party was very special. The food was fun and the Entertainment was fabulous. Thai dancing, a fire show, and of course launching our Krathongs into the river, casting off the “stuff” we don’t need and thinking about how to be a better person in the coming year. Does this holiday sound familiar to any of my Friends?

The next day, Stefi’s friend J’lene & her husband Dan arrived. Frank met them at the airport and brought them to the cute Vieng Joon On Tea House where we had tea and snacks. We all got acquainted and Stefi shared her tour day plans for the next day!
We were to start at 5:30 AM to give alms to Monks on the way to the Doi Sothep mountain temple. Doi Sothep at sunrise is magical. And I had a remarkable experience that day. The photos and story are in the next blog entry. Be sure to check it out!
After Doi Sothep we stopped at the unusual 15th Century Wat U-Mong. It has underground tunnels with shrines in them in addition to an interesting stupa in the 11th century style.

We next headed to the old city to see one Temple there, and to Fern Forest Garden Restaurant for brunch! We were starved and the Carmelized Banana Peanut Butter French Toast did not disappoint!
In the afternoon we went out to Sam Kamphaeng to see artisans. The umbrella factory is fun as artists will paint for you as you wait. I now have elephants and butterflies on my purse! The silk factory was enlightening and we saw the celadon pottery being made too.
We had such a great dinner at Woo, a lovely flower filled restaurant with really good food, that I went back the next day with new friends!

Wow, Stefi you outdid yourself...we had such a full and remarkable day.
We had such a lovely relaxed time together. Stefi and I had a spa day at the Peak Spa. It’s near the Shangri-La, is really nice and has reasonably priced specials for an upscale spa. And Frank and I even went to the Chiang Mai tourist night market. Thank you Stefi and Frank! I will treasure the photos and memories of our special together in Chiang Mai!
Love, Nancie

Posted by Nsevers 01:58 Archived in Thailand Tagged temples friends chiang mai monks krathong loy Comments (0)

It’s November, 2019 & I’m Back in Bangkok!

Bangkok - Week 1

I like to say that we give life to our children and they in turn give life to us. Neither of us had spent much time in California before our kids moved out there. Nor had we ever been to Thailand or SE Asia, or even thought about going there. In 2004, our son Noah came to Bangkok on sort of a “study abroad” and 15 years later he’s still there. Since our first trip to Thailand in 2005, we’ve both been back together to explore this beautiful country and others nearby, most recently last year when we travelled for 2 months. That’s when I started this current blog.

Mark returned home and I left LA Friday night and arrived in Bangkok on Sunday, November 3, flying a Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong.
I again stayed at the Sheraton Royal Orchid aka The Sheraton Riverside because it worked so well last year. It’s helpful to recover from the crazy long trip over at a well located hotel with good club lounge food and a nice pools. Here’s the view from the lounge.
This hotel treats its Marriott Platinum or higher guests really well. Even though I was just one person, I received a room upgrade to a nice junior suite with a living room and bedroom. The Executive Lounge is on the 27 floor and has awesome views up and down the busy Chao Praya River. The hotel boat runs every 1/2 hour, across the river to the now 1 Year old and fully open Icon Siam shopping mall, and to the Sathorn Pier which is right at the Saphan Taksin BTS Station.
The first night, I hopped on the boat and met my family for a reunion over dinner. I asked the mall concierge to recommend a restaurant that would be quiet enough to converse. The Greyhound Cafe did the trick! There was something on the menu that each of us liked, and it was uncrowded because its 2nd floor riverside location required walking through a store to find the entrance. Tip: to find it, facing the Apple Store, walk to and inside the first store to the right of Apple, the entrance is in the back of the store.)

Bangkok Shopping Malls are a thing of their own. In addition to stores and restaurants and food courts and kiosks, a major cineplex, museum exhibitions, public art and landscapes, & there are any number of Personal services offered. You can get your teeth expertly cleaned by a dentist for 1/4 of the price in the US, skin clinics offer consultations for procedures to make folks look more youthful (also cheaper for similar services), massage shops, and a plethora of food and grocery options. And then most malls have large indoor play parks, some of them themed! And a few even have ice skating rinks, wave riding, and a seaquarium.
Here’s a great article about some of the most popular shopping malls.

The photos here are of the Icon Siam:

Here you can see Terran ice skating in a mall near the Ekkachai BTS station.
In August I visited the new Hudson Yards mall complex in NYC. The Vessel participatory sculpture outside is worth seeing. But I was underwhelmed by the shopping mall because it tiny and boring compared to the malls in Bangkok.

I stayed 3 nights at the Sheraton and I used the boat often. I took it to the BTS and then took 2 trains to Sukhumvit to visit Sumalai. Sumalai (Aor) has a precious new baby Benjamin Brian with her new husband Daniel. Ben is Terran’s 1/2 brother and Terran is very sweet, gentle and protective when he visits!

Midweek I went to stay at Noah’s house to have more time with Terran. He lives in a gated community in a Thai neighborhood. Within his community, one can forget that they are in a big city. It’s really unusual and very relaxing. Westerners are not seen often in this area. To go places on my own, I learned how to call the guard and speak enough Thai to get a taxi to where I want to go. The first day, I arrived at Noah’s very early in the morning to drop off my things. Then I took a taxi to Terran’s school in time for the 8:15 AM parent meeting. It was a special day. Terran was playing on the 9 & under football team in tournament against five other international schools. I watched the entire tournament and Terran was so excited & proud. The kids played hard for hours. Many games. And they won second place! Congratulations Bears!

The next two weekdays I spent learning my way around this area of town. Then on Saturday, Terran and I went on a staycation at the Marriott Sukhumvit which is just nearby to Terran’s mom. We had an upgrade to an executive suite on the club floor. Sumalai came to be with us and enjoy the hotel buffet. On Sunday, we took Terran ice-skating. He loves it, he is gaining confidence and figuring it out. Afterwards we found a farmers market at the Gateway mall. We ate yummy homemade falafel and Mediterranean dishes and enjoyed the music. It was a small market & setting was mid-city but it was not that different from our market in Lebanon or Norwich.

The Marriott is located in the Thong Lor neighborhood. The hotel is on the upper floors of a 45 story building and the lower floors operate as a Marriott Executive residence. This part of the city is so dense. It’s Architecturally interesting as the buildings are getting funkier and fancier. From the high floor view you can really see the density. As far as the eye can see there are huge residential and office buildings and malls, with little Soi’s winding around and in between and thats where you can find street side massage shops and local food.
Density, Skyscrapers as Far as the Eye can See!

Density, Skyscrapers as Far as the Eye can See!

We went to Sumalai & Sumalee’s shop before heading home. It’s Malai Spa on Sukhumvit Soi 24 and I had a really good deep tissue oil massage. Lucky me to know where the locals go.
Terran and I were happy to be together again.
I’m off to visit friends in Chiang Mai & Pai until Terran will have a free weekend again! I’m so grateful to be back in Thailand!

Posted by Nsevers 23:01 Archived in Thailand Tagged shopping thailand restaurants bangkok family malls Comments (0)

Heading Back to Thailand!

California on the Way!


We last saw our grandson Terran in early January. It’s time for a visit. This year, Mark isn’t joining me in Thailand. There’s lots to do at home to get ready for winter. And NH residents already saw the first snow last night.

We had not seen our SF family since March. Mark joined me for a California visit first to San Francisco and then to LA to see my brother and sister in law, and our niece and kids! So I’ll digress and share a few California photos first. We flew to San Jose and explored the Beach Towns from Santa Cruz to Pismo Beach for a few days.
A highlight of our trip to the California Central Coast was visiting our friend Roger Nicolas at his Paso Robles Winery. Roger was the founder of the popular Home Hill Inn and French Restaurant in Plainfield, NH and we first stayed there over 30 years ago while visiting the Upper Valley to consider moving there. Mark and Roger played tennis on his handcrafted red clay court, and we celebrated special occasions at Home Hill over many years. Roger sold the Inn over 15 years ago and it has since closed. We had heard he started a winery and we tracked him down. He and his lovely wife Claire invited us for lunch and we had such a memorable afternoon! The wines from RN Estate are hand-crafted by Roger himself. He planted the grapes, he harvests them by hand before the sun comes up, and his fine wines are award winners coveted by connoisseurs.
Thank you Roger & Claire for the most unusual for us and wonderful afternoon. We were so happy to see you!

On Friday, we flew from San Luis Obispo to San Francisco to spend the weekend with our kids when they are “off work.”
We had lots of family time with Aaron, Megan, Wes, David and his girlfriend, Sarah whom we were so happy to meet.
We celebrated Halloween at Wesley’s school party, all dressed up too! Megan made all of our “outfits” except for Pooh. She painted Wes’ pj’s for Tigger and she had the great Kanga shirt all ready for me. So much fun!
The Ferry Building Farmers Market is always colorful and yummy!
Wes calls this Ferry Building statue “Papa”. Ghandi does look a bit like Mark, don’t you think?
And we enjoyed our Exploratorium day with Wesley! David & Sarah were great helpers!

On Monday, we headed south to LA to see the family there. We enjoyed yummy dinners, visiting E & H’s architecturally stunning new house in Santa Monica, seeing Jeff & Doris and their grandkids. I got to see Faye! We gave out candy at Ellen’s house While they took the kids out to trick or treat. It was crazy how many kids came. And, it’s hard to believe that our kids and nieces and nephews are all grown up. We have grandsons and grand nieces and nephews. Where DID the years go?

Mark headed home before Halloween and I’m heading out to Thailand from the West Coast! Stay tuned to the blog!

Posted by Nsevers 01:19 Archived in USA Tagged hotels beach california halloween sunsets family Comments (0)

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